MURRAY— Murray State Hall of Famer (2007) Jessica Grace, was this week’s guest on the Runnin’ with the Racers Podcast, episode 102.
The Runnin’ with the Racers Podcast posts each week to GoRacers.com, iTunes and Soundcloud.
A native of Wisconsin, Jessica Grace was part of setting Coach Velvet Milkman on a path of 12 Ohio Valley Conference women’s golf championships when the Racers won three in a row from 1997-99.
Playing from 1996-2000, Grace was as a three-time first team OVC All-Conference selection and was the first player in the MSU program to be selected (alternate) for the NCAA Regional Tournament. Grace (maiden name Widman) was remarkably consistent with 25 career top-10 finishes and was named to 15 all-tournament teams.
Grace, who lives in Henderson, was a perfect picture of what it means to balance academics/sports and excel in each. Grace was a three-time selection as an NCAA All Scholar Golf Team honoree. She graduated from Murray State in 2000 magna cum Laude and was named outstanding student in economics.
As the first MSU women’s golfer inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame in 2007, Grace talked vividly on the podcast about how much Murray State means to her.
“Murray State gave me my husband, Nathan, and therefore, my family,” said Grace, who has two teenage sons, Aidan and Keegan, who was born only three days after her induction into the MSU Hall of Fame. “The people at Murray State make all the difference. That is all of the people who shaped me into the person I am today. Of course Coach Milkman and all of my teammates, we still get together for golf reunions.”
Grace is battling breast cancer that was diagnosed in the spring of 2020.
“I have to say it was a shock and I obviously wasn’t expecting it,” Grace said. “I had a grandmother who had breast cancer, so my OB/GYN started me early on having a mammogram when I was 35. Late on Friday afternoon during this whole COVID-19 time, the radiologist came in and told me. I knew at that moment that God was going to take care of me no matter what happens. I just want to urge all the women out there, don’t skip those mammograms and make sure you do it.”
Grace says because she has been regular with her exams, they were able to catch this early. Her prognosis is good and it gives a 95% chance to be cancer free in five years. The game of golf has been a big part of Grace’s life since she was a child and the game is one of the things that inspires her to beat this cancer and return to play competitively.
“I told my doctors that I am a golfer and I want to retain the ability to move and play the game competitively when this is over,” said Grace, who won the Kentucky Amateur championship in 2007. “We’re avoiding radiation which can cause issues with mobility. I told my doctor my main concern is that I am alive when this is all over,” Grace recalled with a laugh. “I asked them what do we have to do to be aggressive with this because I’m young and I want to play again. I have a passion for golf.”